Britain's 100-year record for medals, China still lead
By Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters
August 20, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
BEIJING -- Next Olympics hosts Britain reached their highest gold medal tally in a century on Tuesday with four victories including one from a once-banned runner.
Christine Ohuruogu, who only made it to Beijing after winning an appeal against a lifetime Olympics ban, powered to gold in the women's 400 metres for Britain's first athletics win in China.
"Everyone always dreams about winning but you never think there's a reality to something you dream about," said the elated 24-year-old Londoner, who served a year's suspension for missing three doping tests in 2006.
Other wins in cycling and sailing cemented Britain's third place in China, with 16 golds the best since 1908 and the perfect way to fire up enthusiasm at home for the 2012 Games.
Hosts China are way ahead with 43 golds, their seemingly unassailable lead helping dull some of the national pain over the withdrawal through injury of track idol Liu Xiang.
The United States are second with 26 golds.
In the highest-profile race of Day 11, Rashid Ramzi gave Bahrain the first gold in their history in the men's 1,500 meters.
Perhaps the most moving story came from Germany's weightlifter Matthias Steiner, who won the super-heavyweight gold to lay claim to the title of world's strongest man.
Choking back tears on the podium, Steiner, 25, held up and kissed a photo of his late wife, to whom he had promised Olympic success when she was dying after a car crash last year.
"I'm not the superstitious type, don't believe in higher powers, but I hope she saw me," he told Reuters after his win.
Aided by the power of the local yam vegetable, according to his father, Jamaica's Usain "Lightning" Bolt breezed through another race, this time the 200 meters semi-final.
Bolt played for TV cameras at the block and eased up to take a sideways look at competitors before crossing the line first.
"That's just me," he said. "I like to enjoy what I do."
Should he win Wednesday's final, following his world record breaking 100m victory, Bolt will be the first man to win an Olympic double sprint since America's Carl Lewis in 1984.
PEDALLING GRAN TO GAMES
While China's rise may be inevitable, given it has one fifth of the world's population to choose from, Britain's success was more surprising. Even traditional rivals were impressed.